With a handicap in care

"In the spring, philipp completed a one-week internship at our facility", says sonja riedler, head of social services. The 18-year-old trainee, who suffers from infantile spastic cerebral tetraparesis, realizes his potential by getting a taste of life at the social institution "am bruderwald a rough wish. As a companion in the social care team, he learned about everyday working life and how to deal with senior citizens.

"He liked it so much that he asked us to drop by once in a while", so riedler. Why not – thought the occupational therapist and the project "old and fit meets young and handicapped"? Was born. For several months now, the youngster has been visiting the seniors on a regular basis. Then philipp takes part in music therapy with the residents or visits the residents he is familiar with in the apartment.

"Any initial fears of contact were short-lived.", reports sonja riedler. Thanks to philipp's open and direct manner, a cordial relationship quickly developed between them. "It's great to see philipp and the residents talking in the common room", finds riedler. According to the occupational therapist, the residents even ask about the 18-year-old as soon as he has not visited for a long time. "He also joins us for festivities, such as the summer party, in a group that is already familiar to him, the specialist tells.

Question of communication

Communication is at the forefront of the encounter between handicap and age. Common questions such as "when did you get up today??", "can you get dressed on your own?" or "why are you also in a wheelchair??" these sessions lead to deep, special conversations. "Philipp is interested in the everyday life and the life of the elderly and vice versa", woman riedler. One can observe how both sides open up and reflect on their experiences with each other. "The seniors often have a handicap, too, like philipp. That welds together", according to the head of social care.

The disparate friends often support each other. For example in the music therapy, when an old lady helps philipp with the movements. Or when philipp listens attentively to a resident and consoles him while he talks about his past in print. "Philipp's joie de vivre gives our residents courage", says riedler.

Christina konig is also doing a six-week internship in senior living at bruderwald. Konig is actually an employee of the bamberger lebenshilfe workshops. But at the moment she supports the team and the residents in the care facility. "The aim is for christina konig to continue working in senior living after her internship as part of the 'integra mensch' project.", says riedler. She was then already the second lebenshilfe employee in the house.

As a non-profit organization, seniorenwohnen, including facility manager thomas schmitz, feels committed to the common good and is involved in the wider community. "The first professional station of the facility manager thomas schmitz was a workshop for the disabled. So he has a special connection to the work with the disabled and our project is also very close to his heart", female Sonja Riedler.

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